Shooting live rock shows, I tend to come away with a lot of photos of people making silly facial expressions. While possibly useful at some point in the future for blackmail purposes (I kid), they’re mostly just useful for a chuckle or two before I click the magic button that whisks them out of my Adobe Lightroom library (but not off of my hard drive, of course – I may be hard up for cash one of these days).

So I thought it was pretty interesting when I stumbled across this quote from Kevin Cummins. You know, one of the guys – another would be Anton Corbijn – responsible for the iconic photographs of Joy Division.

In an interview regarding his reaction to Corbijn’s upcoming biopic of Ian Curtis (Closer), Kevin offered up this gem:

“Ian & Co were learning how to pose as a band. I was learning how to shoot bands. We had our own agenda. It wouldn’t be politic to release shots of Ian smiling, so on the rare occasion I captured a hint of a smile I cursed my bad luck at wasting a frame. Often, as Ian stood in front of my camera looking contemplative, the other band members, bassist Peter Hook ‘Hooky’, drummer Stephen Morris and guitarist Bernard Sumner, would stand behind him pulling faces. Occasionally Ian would yawn. These images only exist in my mind. I could never commit them to film. I couldn’t afford to. Would my pictures tell a different story if I’d had the luxury of being able to shoot endless frames digitally?”

An interesting question for sure. If more photos existed of Curtis looking less, um, somber, would the public’s opinion of him be the same? What would it have done to the mythology surrounding the band? Does the prevalence and ease of digital photography these days diminish the status of iconic rock stars? When you have the ability to snap a photo of a performer on stage picking a wedgie or scratching his/her ass, does that drag them down to common-folk status? If so, is that a bad thing?

Other random thoughts while reading that article:

  • I should really learn more about the history of rock photography and key photographers. My justification so far has been that I worry that looking at a lot of other people’s photographs, I may just start emulating styles that I like, as opposed to developing my own. In this case, ignorance can be key to development. But then again, maybe I’ve just been lazy/haven’t found the time.
  • Yeah, maybe I should look into other people’s work more, but should I really be doing it while sitting in lab with thesis work to complete? Answer: I just planned out all my experiments for at least two months, so I deserve a break.
  • Ian Curtis had a daughter before he died. Her name is Natalie, and she’s three years older than me. She’s also a photographer, but she actually went to school for it and stuff. Neat.
  • Wow, a simple wikipedia query turned into an interesting hour spent reading articles. WTF did people do without the internet? How did people learn things? What are these “books” you speak of?